We have an immortal soul through the eternal recurrence

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We have an immortal soul through the eternal recurrence

Max Tegmark in Scientific American's May 2003 issue wrote an article on "Parallel Universes" in which he presents the argument that existences identical to our own recur infinitely over infinite space.  He describes a few different levels of universes, but one of the simplest is that our big banged "universe may in fact be a local space-time "bubble", and that an infinite number of other such bubbles exist.   Anyway, the basic premise of the eternal recurrence hypothesis proceeds from the assumption that the probability of a world coming into existence exactly like our own is finite. If either time or space are infinite then mathematics tells us that our existence will recur an infinite number of times.

 

Assuming this is true, then our existence survives the death of our flesh in this existence.  What survives over and over, at each moment of our lives, simultaneously throughout the infinite cosmos is the pattern of our life as we lived it and shall always live it.  In short, if the eternal recurrence hypothesis is correct, then we do in fact survive rigor mortis.  

 

Comments?

 


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Mak Thorpe wrote:Bob, I

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Bob, I suppose you could assert I am the odd one out, so then Nietszche is too as those who have read him since the 19th century and were also convinced of the connection?  He stated that Zarathustra was based on the idea of the eternal recurrence.  Your response?  I suppose one could be equally dismissive of this large body of existentialist thought, but that would require a more careful argument than you have offered.  In any case, it is not accurate to suggest that the point of view that I have put forth is especially rare or idiosyncratic to one particular individual.  

It is my feeling that the posters here are reflecting an outlier opinion of feeling profound alienation from these other selves.  If the hypothesis is true, then your character is an emergent property of the universe like any other property such as the atomic weight of uranium.  The fact there is no passing of state from one instance may be relevant to your particular instance because our biological instinct is to associate a great deal of importance to our biological continuation.  Its individualism versus the suprapersonal character that is eternal.  One rejects connection with the other.  So what, that doesn't mean there is no relationship between the two.

Philosophical thought is, of itself, an expression of personal opinion, not knowledge, or even necessarily understanding.

In that attitude to 'philosophy' in general, I am sure I am an outlier, and quite happy to accept that.

Your point of view has no logic behind it, and I would not assume your expression is an accurate match to the views of people like Nietsche, without checking into it myself.

I have absolutely no problem with the idea that "[my] character is an emergent property of the universe like any other property such as the atomic weight of uranium".

This implies nothing about any 'suprapersonal' reality, or connection between these hypothetical incarnations at more than an abstract, symbolic level,

Are you saying you actually feel some actual emotional connection with this infinite number of versions of yourself, some sense of communication?

Rational arguments are irrelevant here, they simply reflect your intellectual conclusion that there must be a connection, a real connection would have to be at a more fundamental level of experience and feeling.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Indeterminate outcomes, adjacent possibles and human choice.

mellestad wrote:

Let me ask you this though, feel free to ignore the rest of it.  What actual impact does this idea have on your life?  How would it change the way you think and act, beyond just being amused by thinking about it? 

We touched on that when discusiing determinism and whether choice mattered..  We went through the scenario that at any point in your life there are multiple adjacent possible paths that you might choose.  Maybe outcomes are predetermined by the previous states but maybe not and the choice of the observer does matter.  Do you choose to do something noble or something banal? 

 

 "Is it the mellestad variant that selflessly saved children from a burning home down the street, or the one that beat his wife when she learned he was cheating on her?"

 It is one possible ultimate concern for an individual and it could be entirely framed in secular terms as the challenge of defining who you are by your actions.   There are countless paths that a person calling themselves a mellestad might take.   Which variant of mellstad will you participate?  Did you choose to instantiate the most excellent character a mellestad could take, or not?  That is a situation that encourages one to consider the highest human values- the challenge of the eternal recurrence is the litmus test for Nietzche's overman.  If your choices were repeated for eternity- would you be proud or would it be a damnation your character would suffer for eternity?  

 

Did you get what I meant about the Christina meme being an example of a secular ultimate concern?  Would you get rid of those ultimate concerns too?


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BobSpence1

BobSpence1 wrote:

Philosophical thought is, of itself, an expression of personal opinion, not knowledge, or even necessarily understanding.

Whether or not you could find any philosopher who would agree with you, even as simple thoughts they are not insignificant according to neurologists.  There is a feedback loop between your thoughts and your senses so in a very real way, your thoughts change your world.  Philosophy may not change the world outside your perceptions, but it changes that world you know as it influences its representations.  From the everyday experience of those representations, it really does alter the fabric of the existence you participate in.  So philosophy actually can be used as an important tool of one's cognitive style.  Or you can be passive.  Your choice.  

BobSpence1 wrote:

In that attitude to 'philosophy' in general, I am sure I am an outlier, and quite happy to accept that.

Your point of view has no logic behind it, and I would not assume your expression is an accurate match to the views of people like Nietsche, without checking into it myself.

I'd be happy to provide references.  Is it the part about how the eternal recurrence was important to Nietzche, (zarathustra and the overman's litmus test)?

BobSpence1 wrote:

I have absolutely no problem with the idea that "[my] character is an emergent property of the universe like any other property such as the atomic weight of uranium".

This implies nothing about any 'suprapersonal' reality, or connection between these hypothetical incarnations at more than an abstract, symbolic level,

Are you saying you actually feel some actual emotional connection with this infinite number of versions of yourself, some sense of communication?

Rational arguments are irrelevant here, they simply reflect your intellectual conclusion that there must be a connection, a real connection would have to be at a more fundamental level of experience and feeling.

Over and over Bob you have been asking various forms of the question, "Do you believe in some kind of communication or transfer of state between these versions".  The answer is the same as it always has been.  No.   

You are absolutely correct that it has to do with personal interpretations just like looking at the Pieta-  it suggests something meaningful to me, maybe not to you.  This idea also is a symbol that similarly points to something beyond itself.  Both produce an emotional reaction, yeah.  Objectively,  the Pieta statue is just a hunk of rock and the Tegmark hypothesis as well as the eternal character concept are just abstractions.  

 

Certainly, participating in an eternal is a powerful meme, but memes are not mere.  We cannot escape the fact that everything that we know are cognitive approximations, and we cannot know anything more real than them.  


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Mak Thorpe wrote:BobSpence1

Mak Thorpe wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

Philosophical thought is, of itself, an expression of personal opinion, not knowledge, or even necessarily understanding.

Whether or not you could find any philosopher who would agree with you, even as simple thoughts they are not insignificant according to neurologists.  There is a feedback loop between your thoughts and your senses so in a very real way, your thoughts change your world.  Philosophy may not change the world outside your perceptions, but it changes that world you know as it influences its representations.  From the everyday experience of those representations, it really does alter the fabric of the existence you participate in.  So philosophy actually can be used as an important tool of one's cognitive style.  Or you can be passive.  Your choice.  

I think it would be an achievement to find a significant bunch of philosophers who would agree among themselves to a significant degree.

I read much philosophy when younger, and have long given it up as mostly fruitless word-games.

I suspect I know and understand more than you about the nature of the interactions between our thoughts and senses and memories and reasoning faculties which manifest, in part, in our conscious internal 'narrative'. Today it is very much Scientific endeavour and insight which changes the world. I follow many podcasts from the scientific societies and institutions, and a very informative podcast on brain science. I have listened to radio programs and podcasts on philosophy on occasion as well, and the contrast is just so sad.

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

In that attitude to 'philosophy' in general, I am sure I am an outlier, and quite happy to accept that.

Your point of view has no logic behind it, and I would not assume your expression is an accurate match to the views of people like Nietsche, without checking into it myself.

I'd be happy to provide references.  Is it the part about how the eternal recurrence was important to Nietzche, (zarathustra and the overman's litmus test)?

Quote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I have absolutely no problem with the idea that "[my] character is an emergent property of the universe like any other property such as the atomic weight of uranium".

This implies nothing about any 'suprapersonal' reality, or connection between these hypothetical incarnations at more than an abstract, symbolic level,

Are you saying you actually feel some actual emotional connection with this infinite number of versions of yourself, some sense of communication?

Rational arguments are irrelevant here, they simply reflect your intellectual conclusion that there must be a connection, a real connection would have to be at a more fundamental level of experience and feeling.

Over and over Bob you have been asking various forms of the question, "Do you believe in some kind of communication or transfer of state between these versions".  The answer is the same as it always has been.  No.   

You are absolutely correct that it has to do with personal interpretations just like looking at the Pieta-  it suggests something meaningful to me, maybe not to you.  This idea also is a symbol that similarly points to something beyond itself.  Both produce an emotional reaction, yeah.  Objectively,  the Pieta statue is just a hunk of rock and the Tegmark hypothesis as well as the eternal character concept are just abstractions.  

Certainly, participating in an eternal is a powerful meme, but memes are not mere.  We cannot escape the fact that everything that we know are cognitive approximations, and we cannot know anything more real than them.  

You bring to mind my memories of wandering thru the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and gaining the impression of the unimaginitive and boring internal displays, of seeming endless versions of the Pieta, and the far more vigorous and healthy pagan energy of the Roman sculptures in the outer rooms and galleries. Seeing the original of Botticelli's Venus, and even da Vinci's 'Adoration of the Magi' conveyed more to me than an infinity of Pieta's. There is a small but significant extra measure of emotion stirred up when I contemplate an original of one of these masterpieces. Some original Rembrandts in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg also produced this effect in me.

I have been fortunate enough to experience in person many iconic objects and locations, from the Pyramids of Egypt, and the ancient temples along the Nile, to both ends of the Great Wall of China, and the site of the entombed warriors, also in China, the places which Tamurlane the Great built and conquered in Central Asia, the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the icy seas and vistas of Antarctica, the mighty Mekong River in Vietnam. And the people I encountered and observed there. Contemplating my memories and photographic records of such things is what helps to shape my perspective on life.

So, no, I don't find anything resonating in me from a Pieta, but I emphasize that there are many things which do truly 'get to me'.

With religion, I have visited famous mosques, cathedrals, Buddhist temples, and compared and contrasted the ranges of religious practices each represented. Religious faith is just another aspect of the range of cultures that people have developed across the world.

We never can knowingly participate in an actual 'eternal', that is an attribute of that we could never determine with confidence about any identifiable entity. At best, we can identify things which appear to be persistent, common threads across all these human cultures. But since humanity is extremely unlikely to persist for the effective life of our known universe, we can only speak about things which will last while something like ourselves persists, not true 'eternals'.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Mak Thorpe
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BobSpence1 wrote:I suspect I

BobSpence1 wrote:
I suspect I know and understand more than you about the nature of the interactions between our thoughts and senses and memories and reasoning faculties which manifest, in part, in our conscious internal 'narrative'. Today it is very much Scientific endeavour and insight which changes the world. I follow many podcasts from the scientific societies and institutions, and a very informative podcast on brain science. I have listened to radio programs and podcasts on philosophy on occasion as well, and the contrast is just so sad.

We live in very exciting times, and I eagerly await further breakthroughs in understanding how our minds work.  Whichever accounts achieve dominance, it is pretty certain at this point that many philosophical points of view regarding consciousness were dead wrong.  On the others, many other philosophies, such as those that ButterBattle are having their accounts confirmed, and this lends strength to  recommendations regarding human values that their associated ethical systems have put forth for centuries.  It may well be that philosophy podcasts are littered with the ramblings of the unfocused, and in that respect hard sciences have a distinct advantage.  Juried articles can examine empirical results that either are or are not reproducible.  Podcasts based on the information published in those papers have a reliable quality control mechanism that is absent outside of the hard sciences.  

BobSpence1 wrote:

You bring to mind my memories of wandering thru the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and gaining the impression of the unimaginitive and boring internal displays, of seeming endless versions of the Pieta, and the far more vigorous and healthy pagan energy of the Roman sculptures in the outer rooms and galleries. Seeing the original of Botticelli's Venus, and even da Vinci's 'Adoration of the Magi' conveyed more to me than an infinity of Pieta's. There is a small but significant extra measure of emotion stirred up when I contemplate an original of one of these masterpieces. Some original Rembrandts in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg also produced this effect in me.

I have been fortunate enough to experience in person many iconic objects and locations, from the Pyramids of Egypt, and the ancient temples along the Nile, to both ends of the Great Wall of China, and the site of the entombed warriors, also in China, the places which Tamurlane the Great built and conquered in Central Asia, the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the icy seas and vistas of Antarctica, the mighty Mekong River in Vietnam. And the people I encountered and observed there. Contemplating my memories and photographic records of such things is what helps to shape my perspective on life.

So, no, I don't find anything resonating in me from a Pieta, but I emphasize that there are many things which do truly 'get to me'.

With religion, I have visited famous mosques, cathedrals, Buddhist temples, and compared and contrasted the ranges of religious practices each represented. Religious faith is just another aspect of the range of cultures that people have developed across the world.

We never can knowingly participate in an actual 'eternal', that is an attribute of that we could never determine with confidence about any identifiable entity. At best, we can identify things which appear to be persistent, common threads across all these human cultures. But since humanity is extremely unlikely to persist for the effective life of our known universe, we can only speak about things which will last while something like ourselves persists, not true 'eternals'.

The works that did "get to you" were symbols that for you pointed to more than themselves.  As we participate with them, they point to ultimate concerns.  What shape those concerns take are very different from culture to culture including secular ones, and under Tillich's formulation, they are all the religious response.  "Religious" in this sense is ironically something that is antithetical to what many fundamentalists dwell on.  Religions tend to literalize the symbols turning them into lifeless hulks that no longer speak to the religious impulse.  They become dead idols of intellectual and moral bigotry.


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The works which 'got to me'

The works which 'got to me' resonated with ideas which are important in my emotional and 'spiritual' life. The others relied on triggering memes and ideas which I had not bought into.

I would not say they "pointed to more than themselves", for me, that is a too trivial observation. Our reactions to just about anything, which does invoke a response at all, are based on the associations within our own mind between those images and significant memories and ideas. Sounds like Tillich is expanding the domain of 'religious' to an extent which renders the term almost meaningless.

I would rather see that the responses I am thinking of as something more primal than religion, that do inspire more specifically religious feelings in certain people, but in others, like myself, more general feelings of heightened awareness, even wonder and awe (what I meant when I used the word 'spiritual', for want of a word that captures what I meant more accurately) when at their most intense. Religion has fed off those basic responses, but is only one class of possible secondary responses to the raw feelings.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Mak Thorpe wrote:mellestad

Mak Thorpe wrote:

mellestad wrote:

Let me ask you this though, feel free to ignore the rest of it.  What actual impact does this idea have on your life?  How would it change the way you think and act, beyond just being amused by thinking about it? 

We touched on that when discusiing determinism and whether choice mattered..  We went through the scenario that at any point in your life there are multiple adjacent possible paths that you might choose.  Maybe outcomes are predetermined by the previous states but maybe not and the choice of the observer does matter.  Do you choose to do something noble or something banal? 

 

 "Is it the mellestad variant that selflessly saved children from a burning home down the street, or the one that beat his wife when she learned he was cheating on her?"

 It is one possible ultimate concern for an individual and it could be entirely framed in secular terms as the challenge of defining who you are by your actions.   There are countless paths that a person calling themselves a mellestad might take.   Which variant of mellstad will you participate?  Did you choose to instantiate the most excellent character a mellestad could take, or not?  That is a situation that encourages one to consider the highest human values- the challenge of the eternal recurrence is the litmus test for Nietzche's overman.  If your choices were repeated for eternity- would you be proud or would it be a damnation your character would suffer for eternity?  

 

Did you get what I meant about the Christina meme being an example of a secular ultimate concern?  Would you get rid of those ultimate concerns too?

No, I get what you're saying, but why should I care if another self is going to do what I do?  Manyworlds theory means there is another universe where another self took the action I chose not to anyway, so no matter what I do there is an infinite series of beings doing exactly what I do and an infinite series doing things I didn't choose to do.  Why should I care?  I can't change anything.

 

To top it off, once you get this esoteric you might as well admit that everything we do is controlled by the state of matter our beings are composed of, so all you're really saying is there is another universe where all the atoms bumped into each other in the same sequence as mine.  I'm not sure how that is inspiring on any level, much less why it would make me want to change my mind.

 

Essentially, no matter what choices I make there are a set number of variations of 'me' living on eternally...it doesn't matter what my particular choices are in that eternal continuum.  The variations are not infinite because there are only so many variations that will support life.  Those variations will all exist no matter which variation I happen to be.

-------------

I could just as easily say, "I can do whatever I want, because a part of me is going to live on in a happy multiverse, even if I'm a miserable shit to everyone."  That doesn't make any sense to me either, but it is the same reasoning you're using.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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mellestad wrote:Mak Thorpe

mellestad wrote:

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Did you get what I meant about the Christina meme being an example of a secular ultimate concern?  Would you get rid of those ultimate concerns too?

No, I get what you're saying, but why should I care if another self is going to do what I do?  Manyworlds theory means there is another universe where another self took the action I chose not to anyway, so no matter what I do there is an infinite series of beings doing exactly what I do and an infinite series doing things I didn't choose to do.  Why should I care?  I can't change anything.

Really?  You do get what I was saying about the Christina meme?  It's not clear to me how your response has anything to do with it.  

 

I acknowledged your point about determinism.

 "Maybe outcomes are predetermined by the previous states but maybe not and the choice of the observer does matter."  

Say you found yourself in a game that was possibly rigged but there was no proof either way, and there was no escape from the game.  Either way you play to win on the chance that it is not rigged, and your decisions do matter.  So really your point about determinism has no impact on our behavior.  

 

Now, as for my question about the Christina meme?


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Mak Thorpe wrote:mellestad

Mak Thorpe wrote:

mellestad wrote:

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Did you get what I meant about the Christina meme being an example of a secular ultimate concern?  Would you get rid of those ultimate concerns too?

No, I get what you're saying, but why should I care if another self is going to do what I do?  Manyworlds theory means there is another universe where another self took the action I chose not to anyway, so no matter what I do there is an infinite series of beings doing exactly what I do and an infinite series doing things I didn't choose to do.  Why should I care?  I can't change anything.

Really?  You do get what I was saying about the Christina meme?  It's not clear to me how your response has anything to do with it.  

 

I acknowledged your point about determinism.

 "Maybe outcomes are predetermined by the previous states but maybe not and the choice of the observer does matter."  

Say you found yourself in a game that was possibly rigged but there was no proof either way, and there was no escape from the game.  Either way you play to win on the chance that it is not rigged, and your decisions do matter.  So really your point about determinism has no impact on our behavior.  

 

Now, as for my question about the Christina meme?

It is a bit removed from that though, because the only way I can see getting an emotional impact from the idea in the first place is to follow the idea of materialism to its ultimate conclusion.  Your argument makes sense as to why you should act with free will at the moment, but not why I should care about the 'next life'.  Oh well.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Mak Thorpe wrote:Did you get

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Did you get what I meant about the Christina meme being an example of a secular ultimate concern?  Would you get rid of those ultimate concerns too?

 Well?


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Mak Thorpe wrote:Mak Thorpe

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Did you get what I meant about the Christina meme being an example of a secular ultimate concern?  Would you get rid of those ultimate concerns too?

 Well?

I wouldn't get rid of the evolutionary drive to protect children, but that is just a 'natural' drive shared by most (all?) mammals, it isn't intellectual at all so I'm not sure I'd call it a 'secular ultimate concern' and compare it to a 'theistic ultimate concern'.

To me, religion is an intellectual argument (that often uses emotion as a premise, but the emotion is not the goal, just a method), it is about answering questions about life.  We have rational answers to the questions religions were invented to answer so I don't see what the purpose is anymore.  It is a belief we can live without.  We can't live without the drive to protect our young.

 

Your question seems like asking if I would remove the desire for self preservation as a 'secular ultimate concern'.  I don't see how it relates.  Maybe I just don't see what you're getting at?

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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secular memeplexes expressing ultimate concerns

mellestad wrote:

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Did you get what I meant about the Christina meme being an example of a secular ultimate concern?  Would you get rid of those ultimate concerns too?

 Well?

I wouldn't get rid of the evolutionary drive to protect children, but that is just a 'natural' drive shared by most (all?) mammals, it isn't intellectual at all so I'm not sure I'd call it a 'secular ultimate concern' and compare it to a 'theistic ultimate concern'.

To me, religion is an intellectual argument (that often uses emotion as a premise, but the emotion is not the goal, just a method), it is about answering questions about life.  We have rational answers to the questions religions were invented to answer so I don't see what the purpose is anymore.  It is a belief we can live without.  We can't live without the drive to protect our young.

 

Your question seems like asking if I would remove the desire for self preservation as a 'secular ultimate concern'.  I don't see how it relates.  Maybe I just don't see what you're getting at?

The language Obama did not connote defense of Christina.  "Protection" or "Defense" touches on the set of reflexes that feed into the gun enthusiast/ libertarian memeplex.  Within this world view, the individual has tight associations between their identity and the meaning of social actions such as gun control, or the government's role in insuring a fair society.  This is an example of a secular concern.  

 

 I put it to you that such memplexes constitute a form of deep communication with our natural drives.  Do the memes used speak to our impluse to nurture and set good examples as parents (the natural drive that Obama focused on), or do they speak to memes of power, violence and tribalism (the natural drives that much of the Tea Party movement feeds on)?  Using the measure I proposed, how well do these memeplexes perform at motivating action that conform to higher human values?   Right wing talk radio has demonstrated the effectiveness of their memeplex.  These may not be human values we agree with, but from their perspective, they are, and are so deeply motivating, we may legitimately refer to them as ultimate concerns.

 

Now, one could lump this sort of approach of wiring memeplexes into natural drives as the same sort of non rational approach that religions take to communicating with natural feelings and impulses.  It would be quite natural for a devotee of the Enlightenment to reject all expressions of ultimate concerns, and at one point you suggested this was your point of view.  With the Christina "nurturing" meme example, I pointed out that not all natural ultimate concerns are negative.  

 

In the larger context of this thread, the image of an infinite repetition of one's chosen actions in life is a symbol for an ultimate concern for the fidelity of one's character.  It could be part of a memeplex that motivates positive actions and restricts negative actions.  Regarding the symbol of the Eternal Recurrence, both you, Bob, and Butterbattle do not feel any emotional connection with these other instances of yourself identical in all behavior, and so the symbol has no force for you.  This is to be expected for many individuals, in the same way as we can understand that the powerful symbols of some novels have great effect on one person and not on another.  To each his own.  It does not prove that a strong emotional response is not possible.  Simply because particular individuals do not feel an emotion does not prove the case that the symbol does not have emotional force for large numbers of others.  

 

In any case, whether these are traditionally religious symbols or secular symbols in my view is a secondary property.  For you the distinction is crucial because symbols having to do with scientific models of nature have a qualitative difference from those generalized symbols of good patterns of consciousness that do not derive from empirically verified phenomena.   An example of the latter would be touched on when a Christian speaks of seeing the eternal character of Jesus in the heart of someone else.  

 

So I would point out to you that a Christian meme that speaks to the nurturing instinct in humans is  speaking to a natural ultimate concern.  I personally would enthusiastically support those who integrated symbols such as the Christina meme into a secular memeplex that expressed their ultimate concern.  Just on the face of it, it sounds as if you would have no problem with such a memeplex so long as explicit religious symbols were eschewed.  But on the other hand, such a system would contradict other principles you have expressed support for.  The revolution of the enlightment regarded deep integration of any memeplex with strong emotions with considerable suspicion.  I understand the danger seen there, but the nature of the danger has to do with literalistic use of the symbols of a memeplex, and resistance to using the force of the symbols to motivate behavior conformant to their expression of higher human values.


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I suppose my response would

I suppose my response would be I am against any meme that exists for its own sake, beneficial or not, without careful understanding of why it is effective when applied to the human mind.

 

In my ideal world, none of these memes would have any direct power because we would understand ourselves well enough to avoid their influence.  That doesn't mean we might not do exactly what a particular meme advocates, rather it means we would do the thing for a good rational reason rather then simply responding intuitively and attempting to rationalization later.

 

Naturally, that isn't a very practical idea, but that is the root of where I'm coming from.  As a more practical matter, I think the less 'baggage' a meme has, the better it is likely to be.  For example, the Christian meme has an enormous amount of baggage and I think you can gain the same positive effect without so many negatives if you promote other ideas.

 

And overall, I do agree that whether a meme is religious or not doesn't have much primary impact, but they are some of the most egregious examples of irrationality and the most potentially harmful because they impact followers at a very deep level.  Something like belief in alien abduction is probably about equal in terms of rationality, but it isn't as wide-spread of necessarily as likely to cause harmful follow-up memes.

 

The main problem I see with non-religious memes is that, without the lure of immortality and often the fear of external retribution, a meme has a lower chance of success, especially against the uneducated and those living in poor conditions.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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Religious memes ultimately

Religious memes ultimately derive from the same basic drives and feelings that we have evolved to thrive as a social species, as more direct impulses to nurturing and cooperation, but, as mellestad says, they have become encrusted with a lot of of baggage which can distract from normal empathic and co-operative impulses. They have incorporated a lot of more primitive tribal taboos and practices and  traditions which were current at the time the religions developed.

Such as the meme of blood-letting and sacrifice to appease the God(s), which seem to be a major meme behind the 'salvation/crucifixion' scenario in Christianity, with its false third-party version of 'atonement'.

One real problem with tying moral precepts to a an ancient mythical creation scenario is that as modern discoveries show the creation story to not correspond with reality, it can discredit the associated moral message, which should be not dependent on acceptance of such myths.

Rather than talk of 'ultimate concerns", secular or otherwise, we can recognize and encourage those instinctive drives which are still appropriate and positive in the modern context, and discourage those which tend to lead to destructive aggression towards those perceived to be a threat, either individually or collectively.

I would reject this replicated soul stuff as purely a distraction from the reality we exist in and should be trying to optimize for the good of society.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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BobSpence1 wrote:Religious

BobSpence1 wrote:

Religious memes ultimately derive from the same basic drives and feelings that we have evolved to thrive as a social species, as more direct impulses to nurturing and cooperation, but, as mellestad says, they have become encrusted with a lot of of baggage which can distract from normal empathic and co-operative impulses. They have incorporated a lot of more primitive tribal taboos and practices and  traditions which were current at the time the religions developed.

Such as the meme of blood-letting and sacrifice to appease the God(s), which seem to be a major meme behind the 'salvation/crucifixion' scenario in Christianity, with its false third-party version of 'atonement'.

One real problem with tying moral precepts to a an ancient mythical creation scenario is that as modern discoveries show the creation story to not correspond with reality, it can discredit the associated moral message, which should be not dependent on acceptance of such myths.

Rather than talk of 'ultimate concerns", secular or otherwise, we can recognize and encourage those instinctive drives which are still appropriate and positive in the modern context, and discourage those which tend to lead to destructive aggression towards those perceived to be a threat, either individually or collectively.

I would reject this replicated soul stuff as purely a distraction from the reality we exist in and should be trying to optimize for the good of society.

It sounds a little utopian sounding.

Is recognizing and encouraging these positive instinctive drives the sole task of an individual or is there some other person or persons in some advisory position?  If so who- does everyone have a psychologist, or are people expected to do it casually at the water cooler?  Are any norms identified- such as non violence in act and language in achieving change?  If the old narratives have too much baggage, who creates the replacements?  Are these narratives taught to children from an early age?  If there are no well established narratives which the brain stem can use to identify which bundles of precepts carry value for the individual, then what else does it fall back on but its own reflexive narratives of primal patterns such as zero sum predation, sex, tribalism and so on?

 

While I couldn't agree more with both of you that all religions have huge amounts of historical baggage that is undesirable, the postmodern movement recognizes the value of the existing infrastructure of symbols.   Let's not forget that all representations are at their core "myths", and the interlocking narratives contained in the memes of one's world view constitutes an elaborate mythology.  The question is, do we have a language for interacting with they mythology of our consciousness, or do we become utterly oblivious to its workings?   Certainly mankind can do away with a particular religion as it has often done in the past, but mythic consciousness will simply replace it with another mythology.   I suppose a society aware of the neurological foundations of consciousness could attempt to take control of this and invent a replacement- perhaps along the lines of the narratives of the psychology of symbol and narrative myths that Jung developed or some analog.  I can imagine that, or something more loose along the lines of memes invented by inspired experts in literature.  Where the utopian plan loses plausibility is the notion these symbols have any force on human behavior if they aren't felt to be imperative components of one's existence.  The challenges in self correction of our pathological behaviors too substantial for a scheme that did not have this essential component.  This was Martin Luther King's criticism of his understanding of Tillich's system of symbols.

 

Anyway, is such a symbolic memeplex even vaguely close to what you are suggesting, or are you imagining something along the lines of mellestad's model where we become much more consciously aware of and in manipulative control of the non conscious activity of the brain?


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I think the US needs to take

I think the US needs to take note of the real progress in this direction by the more secular countries in Europe and elsewhere, and study what seems to be helping that sort of progress.

I think you are way over-estimating how much like an elaborate 'mythology' are many secular world-views.

You do need a more effective public education system, with more secular emphasis. An appropriate presentation of the most interesting discoveries of Science can capture the imagination of young people.

The wonders of the real world, and what we are learning about the universe and life on earth give us plenty of material - we can attach allegories, even poetry, inspired by contemplation of these wonders, to the factual accounts of reality. Artists are already doing this. Anyone in a position to help spread this awareness should be given the opportunity. You have people like Niel deGrasse Tyson who already are attracting a following.

I don't think of what we need as so much a mythology, as a narrative, or a set of narratives, which can be accepted as symbolic, allegorical.

I know it is futile to attempt to 'design' a new myth explicitly.

I think it is happening already, just needs everyone in a position to encourage it to do it whenever possible. The internet is helping here.

The main problem is how to reduce the influence of old religious thinking in countries which are still influential but culturally retarded in many public areas, such as the US.

I think all we can do is see what seems to work, by comparing various actual cultures, and everyone in a position to influence the generation and propagation of what we see as positive memes to do it, to counter the negative ones being propagated by people and groups like Glen Beck, Bill O'Reilly, the Tea Party, etc.

Just some thoughts.

I don't see your multiple 'souls' idea has much to offer here, really.

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BobSpence1 wrote:I think you

BobSpence1 wrote:

I think you are way over-estimating how much like an elaborate 'mythology' are many secular world-views.

I see.  So is it your view that in our evolutionary history we suddenly gained these frontal lobes and boom- all our brain is within reach of conscious control and the corresponding tools of mastering our brains (education and so on)?

 

 

Perhaps this is a terminological difference?  Do you buy the current neurological accounts that mental maps that "make sense" of sensory inputs are constructs that create approximate images of phenomena relevant to the organism?  Similarly, the brain will project narratives over combinations of memories of such constructs which are then assigned values at the brain stem.  When they reach a threshold of high value, they then surface and we become aware of them.  For example, our unconscious interprets inputs about a particular woman and our unconscious mind associates a femme fatale narrative to that individual, which our conscious mind then recognizes as attractive if our personality type finds it compensatory in some way to its make up.  Quite unconsciously, we run out a drama which is what a Jungian would identify as a narrative corresponding to that archetype.  Personally, I think the Jungians have a much too rigid view of non conscious narratives, but I use them for illustrative purposes since their accounts of memeplex narratives have been widely described.

 

 

 


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Mak Thorpe wrote:BobSpence1

Mak Thorpe wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I think you are way over-estimating how much like an elaborate 'mythology' are many secular world-views.

I see.  So is it your view that in our evolutionary history we suddenly gained these frontal lobes and boom- all our brain is within reach of conscious control and the corresponding tools of mastering our brains (education and so on)?

 

It sounds to me as though you two are referring to completely different concepts.  First of all, I grew up in a communist country and followed a completely secular education system up grade 8 (Romania).  The meme that Mak keeps referring to was such that it had very little obvious religious influence.  I've learned to ridicule religion at a young age, yet there were plenty of superstitions and unfounded cultural idiocies which I grew up to believe in (i.e nationalism, racism...).  It's difficult to describe what my belief system was but I have to agree with Mak that a purely secular world-view is almost impossible with our current understanding.  I'm not sure how to classify it in terms of quality relative to the current north-american meme.  

I agree that it is very idealistic of us to expect a completely secular 'memeplex' to actually have any chance of being widely accepted.  It would almost seem as though a god would be necessary to design such a memeplex Smiling .   That's not to say we should stop trying or accept something like postmodern christianity in it's place.  Simply because this memeplex is rooted into ancient superstition doesn't make it superior, perhaps easier to accept by the masses but that's really relative (i.e. middle east, russia). 

Now Mak, I skimmed over the thread and admire your knowledge and depth into reality perception, psychology understanding and overall abstract ability.  I admit that I find some of the concepts difficult to grasp due to my limited knowledge on the subject, but it will definitely be something I'll be reading up on mostly due to this thread.  Enough ass kissing, I can't get past the fact that you are a deist.  I see that you have spent considerable effort into justifying your position, and myself, not being at that same level yet, cannot make a strong argument against your understanding.  I may be oversimplifying my statement but I believe you are still praying to a god of gaps.  These gaps may take the form of our understanding of reality perception, astrophysics, or some other science but gaps is what you're pointing out.  

Mak wrote:

In the larger context of this thread, the image of an infinite repetition of one's chosen actions in life is a symbol for an ultimate concern for the fidelity of one's character.  It could be part of a memeplex that motivates positive actions and restricts negative actions.  Regarding the symbol of the Eternal Recurrence, both you, Bob, and Butterbattle do not feel any emotional connection with these other instances of yourself identical in all behavior, and so the symbol has no force for you.  This is to be expected for many individuals, in the same way as we can understand that the powerful symbols of some novels have great effect on one person and not on another.  To each his own.  It does not prove that a strong emotional response is not possible.  Simply because particular individuals do not feel an emotion does not prove the case that the symbol does not have emotional force for large numbers of others.  

Let's assume for the sake of the argument that we can empirically prove that these recurrences exist, let's even assume that this discovery raises the 'emotional connection'.  I fail to see how this would constitute basis for a memeplex that motivates positive actions.  I understand how the greatness and enormity of the concept would be attractive to a deist, but if such an empirical discovery were made it would simply describe a reality in which Infinite Recurrences exist, and that's it.  I fail to see any reason to attach more meaning to that.

It's getting very late, I'm going to log off now

/rant

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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Mak Thorpe wrote:BobSpence1

Mak Thorpe wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

I think you are way over-estimating how much like an elaborate 'mythology' are many secular world-views.

I see.  So is it your view that in our evolutionary history we suddenly gained these frontal lobes and boom- all our brain is within reach of conscious control and the corresponding tools of mastering our brains (education and so on)?

 

We did not 'suddenly' gain our frontal lobes , and little if any of our brain is "within conscious control".

I just said that 'mythology' does not seem to me to be an appropriate term to describe the unconscious processes that have such a major influence on our thought processes.

What are normally labelled 'mythologies' are a result of our attempts to understand the world and ourselves in an informal, non-scientific manner.

Quote:

 

Perhaps this is a terminological difference?  Do you buy the current neurological accounts that mental maps that "make sense" of sensory inputs are constructs that create approximate images of phenomena relevant to the organism?  Similarly, the brain will project narratives over combinations of memories of such constructs which are then assigned values at the brain stem.  When they reach a threshold of high value, they then surface and we become aware of them.  For example, our unconscious interprets inputs about a particular woman and our unconscious mind associates a femme fatale narrative to that individual, which our conscious mind then recognizes as attractive if our personality type finds it compensatory in some way to its make up.  Quite unconsciously, we run out a drama which is what a Jungian would identify as a narrative corresponding to that archetype.  Personally, I think the Jungians have a much too rigid view of non conscious narratives, but I use them for illustrative purposes since their accounts of memeplex narratives have been widely described.

That is a reasonable description, I just don't see the use of the word "narrative" in that context to be applicable in quite the same sense as the more consciously composed story-line of a myth. They are both "narratives", but in a somewhat different context.

The core of a myth is probably suggested or inspired by some sub-conscious correlations, which is what a myth would share with the mental processes you describe, but it normally implies much more conscious elaboration.

Using the term 'mythologies' to refer to the background narratives of the brain carries too much baggage with it.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

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Ktulu wrote:Now Mak, I

Ktulu wrote:

Now Mak, I skimmed over the thread and admire your knowledge and depth into reality perception, psychology understanding and overall abstract ability.  I admit that I find some of the concepts difficult to grasp due to my limited knowledge on the subject, but it will definitely be something I'll be reading up on mostly due to this thread.  Enough ass kissing, I can't get past the fact that you are a deist.  I see that you have spent considerable effort into justifying your position, and myself, not being at that same level yet, cannot make a strong argument against your understanding.

If you want ammunition, any criticism of Barfield, Tillich, or Damassio's account of the neurological substrate of consciousness would be good sources .  References: Barfield, Saving the Appearances.  Tillich, The Essential Tillich.  Damassio "Self comes to mind".  Martin Luther King cited a number of authors critical of Tillich in his dissertation.  I personally think the criticisms by Buber come closest to drawing blood, but he comes at it from a theist perspective which is probably unhelpful to you.  The MLK paper cites someone who refers to Tillich's conception of God as Being as tautologous.  This doesn't rely on any theistic belief but I think utterly misses the ontological point Tillich was making.  Tillich agrees that logic cannot go into that space by definition, and all we are left with are these approximate symbols.  

 

I am optimistic that a secular system expressing ultimate concern is possible that also produces behavior conformant to high human values.  The experiments have so far been disasterous, but the track record of the theistic systems have admittedly been littered with similar evil excesses.  Some would say, right- let's jettison all ultimate concerns.  Better that people think everything is meaningless, nothing matters, everyone be apathetic about justice in the world than expose oneself to the danger of the excesses that those with ultimate concerns can express- especially in the age of science when deranged individuals have the power to kill so many.

 

If anyone got the impression that I have been asserting that having an "Ultimate concern" was inherently better than a world view without one, it is important to look more closely at the claim being made, because that is most certainly not my position.  First, to offer an illustrative statement of an ultimate concern:  A person is a member of this set if one has near certainty that  particular behaviors are imperative due to one's belief in the meaning of existence and the human values that are correlates of that bedrock belief.  There have been instances of secular expressions of this.  My wife and I were both born atheists so we too were taught to mock religion from an early age.  While I grew up in the US, she grew up in a republic of the former Soviet Union.  Her grandfather was a Stalinist, and no doubt you have also run into such individuals who were members of a coherent secular world view expressing an ultimate concern.  

 

I made the case that some followers of Ayn Rand also have something approaching a secular expression of an "ultimate concern".  In neither case do the tools of education offer a silver bullet- in fact, education and a strong belief in rational analysis is at the core of these world views.  One could say that Stalin and Hitler were deified and so these were for many of the followers indistinguishable from a theistic system, but this fact does not negate the existence of large numbers of highly educated individuals holding this world view who simply looked on the leader as a great man.  To my mind, the measure of any system with or without an ultimate concern is whether its members exhibit behavior conformant to high human values.  It is my conjecture that those expressing ultimate concerns are more effective at motivating their members, but what they are motivating them to do could be utterly evil.  There is nothing inherently good about the fact they possess an ultimate concern.  This was my meaning when I stated that given the choice I would prefer my children take an agnostic stance than to become biblical literalists.  

 

I would have no problem if they came to believe in a wholly secular ultimate concern as was theorized above.  I am skeptical that such a system could develop overnight but I don't think it would need to rely on pseudo deistic cults of personality.  Maybe I am wrong about that.  

Ktulu wrote:

 I may be oversimplifying my statement but I believe you are still praying to a god of gaps.  These gaps may take the form of our understanding of reality perception, astrophysics, or some other science but gaps is what you're pointing out.  

Mak wrote:

In the larger context of this thread, the image of an infinite repetition of one's chosen actions in life is a symbol for an ultimate concern for the fidelity of one's character.  It could be part of a memeplex that motivates positive actions and restricts negative actions.  Regarding the symbol of the Eternal Recurrence, both you, Bob, and Butterbattle do not feel any emotional connection with these other instances of yourself identical in all behavior, and so the symbol has no force for you.  This is to be expected for many individuals, in the same way as we can understand that the powerful symbols of some novels have great effect on one person and not on another.  To each his own.  It does not prove that a strong emotional response is not possible.  Simply because particular individuals do not feel an emotion does not prove the case that the symbol does not have emotional force for large numbers of others.  

Let's assume for the sake of the argument that we can empirically prove that these recurrences exist, let's even assume that this discovery raises the 'emotional connection'.  I fail to see how this would constitute basis for a memeplex that motivates positive actions.  I understand how the greatness and enormity of the concept would be attractive to a deist, but if such an empirical discovery were made it would simply describe a reality in which Infinite Recurrences exist, and that's it.  I fail to see any reason to attach more meaning to that.

It's getting very late, I'm going to log off now

/rant

I am not seeing your point of which gaps I see God filling.  You obviously understand that I don't look to god to explain phenomena that are currently unexplained by science.  I think it is silly to look to deities to fill explanatory gaps.   What I did point out was that science by definition does not address some matters that are of paramount importance to many- such as making recommendations about which human value is better than another, and whether existence has any meaning.  If that is what you mean by gaps, I see your point, but this is not at all what "God of gaps" means to most people.  

 

Perhaps you mean that you see my case as the following: Because our consciousness is finite, therefore our perceived worlds are finite.  Most of us believe there is something beyond our perceptions which might either be finite or infinite.  So you see me as pointing to that "otherness" as a gap we can never fill.  A sort of God not of the science gaps, but of the epistemological gap inherent to the human condition.  Is that what you sense?  If so, then sure.  A secularist could say, ok fine it's infinite, it's unknowable in the ultimate sense, but don't  expect me to feel all goose pimply and full of awe and wonder that I should hit the rip cord and jettison rationality so I can lie prostrate before it.  We deal with approximates.  Big deal.  Show me why I should feel otherwise.  Is that the sort of direction you are headed?


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Mak Thorpe wrote:Anyway, is

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Anyway, is such a symbolic memeplex even vaguely close to what you are suggesting, or are you imagining something along the lines of mellestad's model where we become much more consciously aware of and in manipulative control of the non conscious activity of the brain?

 

Don't forget I explicitly stated this was not a practical goal for anyone living today.  If the best we can do is promote less destructive but still fundamentally flawed memes, then that is fine.  However, like Bob, I think there are many nearly ideal memes already, they just take a certain level of understanding and education, and it is manageable in industrialized societies.

 

The most important 'memeplexes' would be rationality, skepticism and the potential for science to discover truth about reality combined with the shared humanity of our species and the drive to work towards betterment.  Those could serve as a foundation much like religion does for many people.  Those memes also have the benefit of being self-supporting in that accepting the premise ultimately leads to the conclusions you want people to reach.  Plus, unlike most religious memes, if someone pushes to the ultimate root things still make sense, you don't have the failure-state built in like religions do.  This would allow those who wanted to understand all they could to do so and still be honest.  The personality type that leads to wasting time on apologetics could instead be channeled into useful pursuits.

Those who could not be convinced to follow the path of rigorous understanding would still be well served by the basic adherence to the memeplex.

 

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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mellestad wrote:Mak Thorpe

mellestad wrote:

Mak Thorpe wrote:

Anyway, is such a symbolic memeplex even vaguely close to what you are suggesting, or are you imagining something along the lines of mellestad's model where we become much more consciously aware of and in manipulative control of the non conscious activity of the brain?

 

Don't forget I explicitly stated this was not a practical goal for anyone living today.  If the best we can do is promote less destructive but still fundamentally flawed memes, then that is fine.  However, like Bob, I think there are many nearly ideal memes already, they just take a certain level of understanding and education, and it is manageable in industrialized societies.

 

The most important 'memeplexes' would be rationality, skepticism and the potential for science to discover truth about reality combined with the shared humanity of our species and the drive to work towards betterment.  Those could serve as a foundation much like religion does for many people.  Those memes also have the benefit of being self-supporting in that accepting the premise ultimately leads to the conclusions you want people to reach.  Plus, unlike most religious memes, if someone pushes to the ultimate root things still make sense, you don't have the failure-state built in like religions do.  This would allow those who wanted to understand all they could to do so and still be honest.  The personality type that leads to wasting time on apologetics could instead be channeled into useful pursuits.

Those who could not be convinced to follow the path of rigorous understanding would still be well served by the basic adherence to the memeplex.

 

You seem to be making the case that the human psyche can be brought under control by rational thought.  

 

The capabilities of our rational faculties are indeed amazing, but they are evolutionarily a comparatively recent addition to consciousness.  Plenty of 50 something men understand perfectly well the "male menopause" phenomenon where men leave their aging wives, buy a corvette or Harley and relive their youth with young attractive girls.  They chortle about how others of their friends have "gone off the deep end", and then they themselves do it a few years later.  Are these fellows uneducated?  The consequences are severe both socially and personally: shattered families, decades of a man's end years living with the guilt of his actions.  Rational understanding is a good and powerful component of any solution, but what I am not getting from your response is how self control follows from knowledge gained from education.  I would think there would have something more that speaks to our inner nature more deeply.

 

This inner nature runs deep if the current neurological accounts anywhere near the truth.  Mental models of the behavior of different animals allowed predators to better predict the intentions of their prey.  When such predatory animals sleep, they continue to hunt and stalk their mental models.  We didn't shed this nature, wild animals are also loose in the house for humans.  To that inner world is added models of personality types also with strong narratives as in the case for modeling prey behavior.  The Marlon Brando outlaw biker image from the movie "Wild One" is a symbol for one such model, and can be worn as a costume, as in the case of  middle aged Born again Bikers, or can be assumed as part of one's identity as in the case of real Hells Angels.  The fact that these models have powerful effect on perceptions has not gone unnoticed by propagandists (eg Obama as a nazi, as a communist, and so on), or in educators (the recognized value of positive role models).  Denying that these models exist, or attempts to eliminate them all by rational analysis is futile.   The memeplexes of religions have rich sets of these models, and secular systems expressing ultimate concerns have done the same.  These are recognized tools for mind control of masses, and if we recognize their role in our consciousness, we can begin to interact with them for self control.  Such interaction does not involve an attempt to stamp them all out as phantasms.  It would be an exercise in self delusion.  

 

What does this have to do with the eternal recurrence?  Well, these models can be seen as eternal, just as one's character can be seen as eternal.  For example in my world view, to understand the figure of Christ, to listen for him, and to be able to see him and nurture his emergence in others is a powerful way of changing the world for the better.  But it would be a mistake to view this phenomenon as an instrument or vehicle.  It is not a psychological tool, or construct as in the case of systems of analytic psychology- for such symbols to have force, they must be perceived as part of an ultimate concern.  Anyway, if secular systems adopted a figure of a positive model, it seems to me it wouldn't be too far from Jesus.  

 

So why re-invent the wheel?


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I'm not sure where our posts

I'm not sure where our posts disagree, unless you think it is better to hold on to old memes with baggage rather than attempt to invent new ones based on rational secular principles.  That was my whole point...the meme doesn't have to be "Vulcan" at the surface, it just needs to be something that is rational if you investigate it.  You can doll it up however you need to as long as the core is not based on lies.

 

You can have a meme of an ideal figure without resorting to Jesus and all the baggage, just like you can have a meme about aggressive action and not resort to an overly violent Hells Angel type.

If you don't 're-invent the wheel' you just get the same problems over and over.  The real goal is to understand the wheel in depth and design new wheels, taking the corners off where you can.

 

Jesus...honestly, Jesus, or the conglomerate that we now call Jesus, was an amazing progression for the time and place.  But it is dated.  The problem with Jesus as a modern model is the root of the meme is as far from rationalism as you can get...it can't grow, it is rigid.  If you stripped off all the un-needed parts all you're left with is, "love your neighbor" and we've got plenty of memes that say the same thing without all the bad stuff.  Even when modern liberal theists essentially strip Jesus of everything *but* that principle, it still has the negative effect of giving more literal people validation.  

 

For short term, practical reasons, I don't have issue with liberal theism because I think it probably has a better change of converting fundamentalist children than flat out rationalism does (it retains familiar imagery, and families are less likely to ostracize children who adopt liberal beliefs than outright atheism), but to me it is just a step down the path, it isn't the end point.

 

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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I don't think we are talking

I don't think we are talking about direct conscious manipulation of our mental workings.

The idea is to consciously design 'memeplexes', based on increasing insight into our psychology, which have a chance of 'catching on' and displacing to a useful degree the old harmful ones like sacriificial atonement with the associated meme of the magic of blood-letting, in favour of emphasising more direct assistance to people in distress.

Religious institutions already have a strong element of encouraging people to help the less fortunate, but it is polluted, even to an extent diluted, by the salvation meme. It adds an element of selfishness into it - you are doing it, in part, to secure your place in a literal heaven.

The idea of sacrificing one life to save another is admirable, like a soldier throwing himself on a grenade to save his companions, but the Jesus scenario twists the whole concept into worse than meaninglessness, IMHO, substituting an unfortunately appealing meme of a way to get a 'free pass' for your sins. With a strong component of the ancient meme of blood sacrifice to appease the angry God/Gods/Spirits/Demons.

Have you any evidence that the 'eternal recurrence' idea is likely to serve as the basis for a successful positive meme? It certainly has no appeal in this group, which suggests that it is not going to work with many people who value rational thought and critical thinking, which I would hope are things you would want to encourage.

The Jesus meme has already demonstrated it doesn't catch on well with the scientifically/rationally inclined, although it can still work on some, such as with Kenneth Miller and Frances Collins.

We have to base any new memeplex on memes which have a more universal appeal, otherwise you are going to end up in the same position as what the various god-memes have got us to today - global conflict between groups with incompatible world-views/faiths.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Mak Thorpe
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The nature of the pollution

Bob, I don't see how any religion (or substitute secular memeplex) can avoid pollution.  To the degree that any such memeplex has any power to change people for the better, it will be misused to take advantage of people.  To the degree that it has any truths that confront our selfish natures, the selfish natures of clever men will twist those truths to flatter the egos of those who prefer not to change for the better.

As for the pollution in Christianity: I agree that literal heaven, literal eternal life of an individual, literal damnation in hell for your sins, or its opposite- literal salvation and/or erasure of the evil of ones sinful deeds, all of these so called pillars of christianity are nothing short of propositional idolatry. 

This is the idea that, whatever ideal spiritual system you come up with, followers take the thoughts and sayings and guided by their self centered motives, first fossilize the goodness into literal meanings, then construct propositions based on those fossilized meanings.  The result of the endeavor is an immense stony idol that they instead worship before.    I think you understand what I mean, but to illustrate with a concrete example:  The Calvinists with their notions of the Elect and accompanying spiritual determinism are probably the worst at reasoning themselves into this sort of idolatry. 

1) Assume God is all powerful

2) Your Will doesn't matter.  God's plan is God's plan and you are deluding yourself if you think anything you do can change it.  God knows all and has his mind made up.  You are predestined for heaven or hell.  Who are we to presume we have any say in the matter?  To claim that we can do anything to stop God's will is sheer hubris. 

3) Your Actions don't matter.  If you do good, it doesn't matter- if you are predestined to go to purgatory, then there is no use trying to get out of it with good works.  Those that are predestined for heaven need not do anything good either.  You are saved even if you deny God and say you don't want to be saved.  By the way, if you do evil, it also doesn't matter because if God chose you, well- he can make everything all right.

Just from a mechanical perspective, as a moral system the doctrine has some clear weaknesses.  Yet Calvinism is wildly popular. 

For the last 4 centuries, this doctrine has been fortified with countless commentaries and complex arguments based on rich references to scripture.  And it has been found to be very appealing to the rich and the successful why?  Because one of the signs of the Elect is that they have been blessed by god- in the biblical sense- like lots of sheep, children, followers and so on.  Naturally those with blood on their hands like to hear about how the simple existence of their success gives them a big leg up on everyone else in the Churches of the Elect.  Naturally, having an abundance of such parishioners tends to swell the coffers. 

This sort of pollution will occur regardless what the cultural memeplex is.  What this means is not that the entire enterprise is hopeless, but that going back to square one gives no guarantees that a clean slate memeplex will somehow be immune from the same principle.  It is not a message of pessimism, but a realization that by its nature, it is a "constant struggle" thing- like the sayings about how freedom is won or lost by the actions we take or don't take every day- it is not guaranteed by some document somewhere. 

My guess is that you see fatal flaws in some of the basic propositions in Christianity, regardless whether they are taken literally or not.  I am taking a guess because the objections you have stated so far have to do with literal interpretations, and the sort of salvation quid pro quo type nonsense that many Christians take for Christianity. 

So don't think I am trying to be agreeable with you.


Pyrismaragdos
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Now, I know this thread is

Now, I know this thread is over 7 months old and what I'm going to say seems to take a different path to the one trodden in the latest posts, but here's a thought anyway:

If, supposing there's infinite time and space, any combination goes, couldn't there be a combination such that, at some given point in time, there are no two identical beings in all of the possible universes? Wouldn't that discontinuity cause the idea of eternity (even through identical beings) to fail? Or could we be considered eternal beings just with some temporal breaks in between?

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BobSpence
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Unless two instances of a

Unless two instances of a being have a conscious continuity of memory, ie they can remember personally experiences of the other, it is meaningless to identify them as the same individual. We have instances of complete memory loss, and sometimes accompanied by significant change of personality, occurring to the one 'person'. In a very real sense, they are not the same individual, even within the same body.

It has been argued, and there is more than a metaphorical truth to it, at least to me, that the child I once was is not me as I now am. That child is closely related to me, but maybe less so than an identical twin who I might have shared most or all of my life with, and who still lived with me.

I see that there is no meaningful sense in which any those multiple instances of an apparently identical individual are equivalent to an 'eternal' life.

Unless I experienced a ongoing life, with significant continuity of consciousness, or more properly - memories, I would not see that I had eternal life.

We may very well be in a position to preserve the memories essentially completely, and 'insert' them in some way into a fresh body, with a whole new lease of life ahead of them. That would to me be the minimum necessary to have an effectively indefinite life-span, and the bodies do not need to be identical.

It is the continuity of memory, including perhaps significant parts of our unconscious memories and experience which still influence our thinking and behavior, even if not consciously, that I would consider essential to identifying a specific individual 'person'.

Now, multiple copies of the 'same' individual?? No. Unless they go through the same experiences, as part of some kind of unified group-mind, no, I don't think they are the 'same' person.. 

To me, these ideas, the idea of what 'defines' an individual, are about as subjective as you can get.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Vastet
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I don't see the point of all

I don't see the point of all this. There is presumption all over the place.
In order to even discuss this, first we must presume there is a multiverse.
Then we must presume the laws of physics apply to every universe within.
Then we must presume that those laws are always the same in every universe, because similar laws will only create (at best) a similar universe. At worst, mere similarity will, via chaos theory, result in a acceleratingly rapid divergent universe with little in common to any other universe.
And as if all that wasn't enough, we must also presume that the rises of these identical universes occur in a linear fashion, else when you die, so do all the other versions of you.

That is far too much presumption to have a meaningful discussion.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.